March 22, 2019
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Indian pilgrims begin to flock to island for annual holy dip

Kolkata, India, Jan 10 (efe-epa).- Thousands of Hindu pilgrims on Thursday began to gather for an annual holy dip in the icy cold waters of an island in eastern India to mark the end of winter solstice.

Hindu devotees every year during this time bathe in what they believe sacred waters of the Ganga Sagar island that marks the point where the Ganges river, considered holy by Hindus, meets the sea.

A large number of pilgrims, including half-naked Hindu monks, from across the country reached the Babughat transit camp that acts as a layover for the devotees, an efe-epa journalist reported.

The pilgrims will now gather for the Ganga Sagar festival that begins on Jan. 13 at the island, located some 130 kilometers (81 miles) south of Kolkata, in the Ganges delta.

The festival is one of the most popular in India and is held every year on the island near the confluence of the river and the Bay of Bengal.

Devotees believe that a plunge in the water during this time of the year washes off sins as the dip is considered a wellspring of salvation.

They also offer prayers at the nearby Kapil Muni Temple during the festival on the island, which is also one of the most-visited tourist destinations in eastern India.

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